GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Not long after Mitchell Boggs became the latest White Sox acquisition, the 30-year-old right-handed reliever had a phone conversation with pitching coach Don Cooper that further brightened his outlook as he prepared for spring training at Camelback Ranch.
"He just talked about going to work and expecting me to be as good as I've ever been," Boggs said. "That meant a lot to me to hear that, especially coming off a tough year. I know I'm capable of doing that. To hear somebody who has those same expectations meant a lot to me."
Cooper's sentiment -- and the opportunity the Sox provided when they agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.1 million contract earlier this month -- was especially meaningful given the letdown Boggs experienced in 2013 with the Cardinals, for whom he logged just 142/3 innings.
"It was disappointing, frustrating, embarrassing, all those great terms," Boggs said. "I would never want to go through it again, but I'm glad I did because I learned a lot about myself, not only as a player but as a person, and the people I have around me."
Boggs was given the closer's job near the beginning of last season after Jason Motte's elbow injury, but he stumbled and converted just 2 of 5 opportunities. He was 0-3 with an 11.05 ERA in 18 appearances in 2013 before the Cardinals traded him to the Rockies.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself in the closer's role to try to be perfect," Boggs said. "I tried to do a little bit more than what I needed to do. I was pressing and started changing stuff mechanically. When that comes together, it's a hard spot to be in."
Boggs draws some optimism from his 3.12 ERA in nine appearances with the Rockies and putting together what he thought was a solid offseason.
The Sox draw optimism from the fact Boggs had the best season of his career in 2012, when he went 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 731/3 innings over 78 games. He pitched in nine postseason games and then played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic the following spring.
"A year ago at this time, it would have been extremely difficult for us to acquire (him)," Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "The fact he was available to come to camp to fight for a spot on the team has some appeal. We've done all right over the years bringing in guys with decent pitching upsides ... and getting them back on track. We're optimistic Boggs will be another one."
The Sox are searching for a closer, but Boggs said he isn't going to worry about whether that is even an option for him.
"They're going to go with the best guy," Boggs said. "I'm not going to concern myself with that. I would never back down from that, but I understand I have to earn whatever I get here. I look forward to doing that, and I look forward to being as good as I've ever been."
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